Developmental Considerations for Understanding Perceptions and Impacts of Identity-Related Differences: Focusing on Adolescence


      Biological psychiatry, similar to many other scientific fields, is grappling with the challenge of revising its practices with an eye toward promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity. One arena in which much of this work will have significant impact is in developmental science generally and the study of adolescence specifically. Adolescence is a critical period during human development during which important social, neural, and cognitive maturation processes take place. It is also a time marked by risky behaviors and the onset of a range of mental disorders. Social and developmental research has provided insight into the cognitive and neural processes by which perceptions of identity-related differences emerge. Clinical research aimed at understanding how individuals from diverse backgrounds navigate the transition period of adolescence is critical for identifying the unique factors underlying risk and resilience in minoritized populations. Taking a developmental perspective, we review processes by which the brain understands group differences and how the developmental timing of this can influence antecedents of psychological distress. We close with a call to action, pointing to important understudied areas within the field of biological psychiatry that are critical for supporting mental health among diverse adolescent populations.


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